Google's ongoing European saga just saw a new development. After the record $5 billion antitrust fine issued by the European Commission last year, the company had to implement new screens to ask users if they wanted additional browsers and search engines on their devices, and now it's taking that one step further by making the search engine choice a default. However, as would any for-profit company do, it's using this as an opportunity to charge search providers that want to be featured.
The new Android "choice screen" will be rolled out in early 2020 to users in Europe and will let them pick the default search engine featured in the homescreen widget and in Google Chrome, as well as install the engine's corresponding app. Besides Google, three other providers will be featured in random order in each country and they will be determined via a once-yearly sealed-bid auction.
Any provider who's interested in being featured will have to bid on the price they'll pay each time a user picks them from the choice screen in a country. The three highest bidders will be chosen if they meet the minimum threshold, but if fewer than three do, the choice will be random among all applicants, even those that didn't submit any paying bid.
So each time a user chooses an engine other than Google, the company could be making money off it. Perhaps not as much as it would had they picked Google and gotten served ads for every search they perform, but still.
Google clarifies that users can always customize their devices later, after the setup is done, but they'll have to do it manually, not through this same choice screen. So there's no guarantee that they'll continue using a search engine after they've made the initial choice.